Saudis eye to emulate ’94, while Mexicans seek more than win
Argentina, Mexico and Poland may all have been fancied to progress from Group C at the World Cup ahead of Saudi Arabia, but after their stunning win over the Argentines, the Saudis are firmly in the mix ahead of their Wednesday game against Mexico.
In their five previous participations, Saudi Arabia have qualified for the round of 16 only once, on their debut at the tournament in 1994. Things will not be easy for Saudi Arabia, however, given that Mexico also have a chance of reaching the last 16, and for the eighth time in a row in their case.
In Qatar, Poland lead Group C on four points, one ahead of Argentina and Saudi Arabia, while Mexico are on one point. Thus, Mexico must win tonight but it will not guarantee progress in case Argentina avoid defeat.
However, if Poland lose or draw with Argentina, Mexico -- who are among the three sides to not have scored in first two rounds of group matches in Qatar -- will be burdened with the task of scoring three goals against the Saudis to raise their goal-difference on level terms with Argentina and Poland.
"As long as there are chances, we always need to try," Mexico's coach Tata Martino said. "Saudi Arabia need to win the match and score goals, and so do we."
Whereas, if Saudi Arabia want to progress they will have to beat Mexico, regardless of the outcome of the match between Poland and Argentina, while a draw would mean they need Poland to beat Argentina.
"No one around the world thought that we could play with this level. Yes, in Saudi Arabia we know the players well, but they are unknown to the fans around the world," Saudi coach Herve Renard told a news conference after his side's 2-0 loss against Poland.